'Excellent' - Brendan Rodgers raves about senior Celtic trio after loss v Zenit
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has praised three Hoops’ stars for their performance in the 3-0 Europa League defeat by Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday night.
The Hoops were knocked out of the competition 3-1 on aggregate after Roberto Mancini’s side breezed past them in the Krestovsky Stadium.
Goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Daler Kuzyaev and Aleksandr Kokorin sealed Zenit’s place in the last 16 draw as Rodgers’ side fell well short of expectations.
The Hoops boss picked out the senior trio of Olivier Ntcham, Scott Brown and Moussa Dembele for their performances and said Brown was “excellent.”
“Dembele was very good and aggressive, Ntcham was good and Brown always is, he is excellent for the team,” Rodgers said, as quoted by STV.
“But I just thought defensively, as a back line, we didn’t press the game or squeeze the space.
“Last week I think we showed that when our concentration is at its best and we defend forward we can defend really well.
“Tonight I thought, in particular in the first half, we weren’t aggressive enough and a little bit passive. “The goals we gave away were really disappointing goals from that aspect.
“So yeah, a disappointing end – a bit better in the second half – but defensively we gave away three very poor goals.”
After a 1-0 win in last week’s first leg at Celtic Park, the Hoops will have been hoping to carry on their European adventure and reach the last 16 of a UEFA competition for the first time since facing Juventus in the Champions League five years ago.
Despite their disappointment in Russia, Rodgers’ side will need to quickly regroup ahead of a must-win clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the Scottish Premiership.
With Rangers and Aberdeen both currently nine points behind the Hoops in the table a defeat by Derek McInnes’ side would blow the title race wide open after looking like a foregone conclusion for months.
In other Celtic news, Patrick Roberts may make his return from injury against Aberdeen on Sunday
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